Best VPN Providers of 2021 | Our Top 5

Last edited: 29 Sep 2021
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Best VPN Providers of 2021 – Our Top 5: Summary

After extensive testing of dozens of popular VPN services, our top five VPNs are as follows:

Bear in mind that, the best choice of VPN depends a lot on your usage and needs. However, our top five offer the best features for almost any user. They ensure you can:

  • Browse anonymously using secure servers
  • Stream Netflix and other content from almost anywhere in the world
  • Download torrents with high speed
  • Protect your personal data

The VPN services we have chosen are compatible with almost all devices and operating systems, namely Mac, Windows, Android, iOS (iPhone), and even Linux. This allows you to secure all your internet traffic with one VPN subscription.

If you prefer a free VPN, here are our top recommendations:

However, note that free VPN services often come with limitations in terms of features and security provided. It’s highly advisable to invest in your security with a premium VPN, like ExpressVPN:

Read our full article below for everything you need to know about the best VPN providers and how to choose the right one for you.

What is the best VPN (Virtual Private Network) provider? That’s a tough question for anyone to answer, simply because there are so many VPN providers to choose from. To help you choose in the vast and crowded world of VPN providers, we compiled a list of the best VPN providers of 2021.

All the VPNs in our top 5 list work with Netflix, allow torrenting/P2P traffic, support the safest encryption protocols, are compatible with all major operating systems, and have headquarters in countries that have beneficial privacy regulations.

Best VPNThese providers all meet the highest privacy and security standards and are reliable services with great reputations.

Each VPN service on this list offers a unique deal with its own advantages. While compiling our top 5, we closely studied the following things:

  • Security & reliability
  • Privacy & logging
  • Number of servers
  • Cost
  • Speed
  • User-friendliness
  • Customer support

As providers occasionally change their policies, server availability, price, or features, we continually update our top 5 VPN providers as well as our top 3 free VPNs, which you’ll also find below.

Want to learn more about these specific providers and other VPNs we’ve tested? Check out our VPN review page.

Best VPN discount deals currently available (October 2021)

VPN providers regularly offer special pricing on their packages. Each month we take look at the sharpest discount deals we can find. Currently, there are some great deals available at ExpressVPN and NordVPN, among others.

1. ExpressVPN special deal

Due to its speed, ExpressVPN is the perfect choice for people who like to stream. It’s ideal for watching sports games or Netflix worldwide. ExpressVPN is now offering a 49% discount if you opt for an annual subscription. This also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. NordVPN special deal

A second competitive deal can currently be found at NordVPN. You can try out this top VPN with 69% off, for $3.67 per month. Click here to claim this discount. Please note that the discount timer at NordVPN is real, so the discount deal is valid for a limited time after clicking the link.

Comparison table with the best VPN services

Looking for a quick overview of how our top 5 VPNs stack up against one another? The following table provides a comparison of each provider’s features. If you want to dig in deeper, you’ll read about each provider in more detail below the table.

VPNExpressVPN logo small

ExpressVPN

nordvpn logo small

NordVPN

surfshark logo small

Surfshark

cyberghost logo small

CyberGhost

Score9.5 / 109.3 / 109.0 / 108.8 / 10
Servers3000+ servers across 94 countries5000+ servers across 60 countries3200+ servers across 65 countries6800+ servers across 90 countries
Torrents/ P2P allowed?YesYesYesYes
Works with Netflix USA?YesYesYesYes
Simultaneous connections56Unlimited7
Works withWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, LinuxWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, LinuxWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, LinuxWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux
VPN-ProtocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec, LightwayOpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, NordLynx (WireGuard)OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, Shadowsocks (Proxy)OpenVPN, IKEv2, Wireguard
Logging policyNo logsNo logsNo logsNo logs
Price (from)$6.67 per month$3.67 per month$2.49 per month$2.25 per month
Money-back-guarantee30 days30 days30 days45 days
WebsiteVisit ExpressVPNVisit NordVPNVisit SurfsharkVisit CyberGhost

What is the best VPN in 2021?

  1. ExpressVPN: The best VPN overall
  2. NordVPN: The most user-friendly VPN
  3. Surfshark: The VPN with the best bang for your buck
  4. CyberGhost: Good VPN with the most extensive money-back-guarantee
  5. Private Internet Access: Great VPN with the largest server network

The best VPN at this moment is ExpressVPN. Other providers that deserve a place in our top 5 best VPN providers are NordVPN, Surfshark, CyberGhost, and PIA. Each VPN has its own unique advantages, such as specialized servers or high levels of encryption. We’ll shortly explain why each of these VPNs performed so well in our vigorous tests.


ExpressVPN logo Banner

1. ExpressVPN

Best premium all-around VPN service for fast, safe, and free internet.

  • Great software for all your devices and operating systems
  • Allows you to surf, stream, and download securely and anonymously
  • Fast, stable connections and excellent customer support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Get 3 months for free with a yearly subscription (through the links on our website)

Specifications ExpressVPN
Operating systems
  • Windows
  • ,
  • Mac
  • ,
  • iOS
  • ,
  • Android
  • ,
  • Linux
Simultaneous connections
  • 5
Torrents
  • Torrenting allowed
Netflix
  • Works with Netflix
Logs policy
  • Zero logs
Protocols
  • OpenVPN
  • ,
  • IKEv2
  • ,
  • L2TP/IPsec
  • ,
  • Lightway
Payment methods
  • Paypal
  • ,
  • Other
  • ,
  • Credit card
  • ,
  • Cryptocurrency
Money-back guarantee
  • Yes

Why should you choose ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN is one of the largest and most well-known VPN providers in the world. This provider offers a great service that includes all possible VPN features you could wish for.

You’ll be able to choose from over 3000 stable servers in 94 countries. This server network has also proven to be one of the fastest we’ve tested, making ExpressVPN’s speed test results excellent.

Is ExpressVPN suitable for streaming and downloading torrents?

ExpressVPN allows you to download anonymously through torrent networks. We tested this with different P2P applications, like uTorrent and BitTorrent. This always worked very well.

In addition, you can access all kinds of streaming services worldwide. This means that you’ll always be able to enjoy American Netflix outside of the USA, as well as other streaming services, such as Disney Plus and Hulu.

What operating systems and devices are compatible with ExpressVPN?

You can use an ExpressVPN subscription on up to five devices at the same time. It offers transparent and well-functioning applications for Android, Windows, iPhone, Mac, and Linux.

Moreover, if English isn’t your first language, ExpressVPN also offers its app in over ten other languages.

Safety and privacy

The security of this provider is top of the bill. ExpressVPN offers several protocols, including OpenVPN and its own Lightway. With this provider, your data traffic is protected with 256-bit encryption.

ExpressVPN doesn’t keep any activity logs, which means your surfing behavior cannot be traced. The provider can keep some information about when you use the app, but this doesn’t have serious implications for your privacy.

ExpressVPN works with so-called diskless servers, which means that even the provider themselves cannot see your browsing history. For these reasons, this provider has built a good reputation over the years.

Customer support

ExpressVPN customer service has a 24/7 live chat function that responds quickly and adequately to any question you may have. Within minutes you’ll have a clear answer to your question. If you prefer, you can also send an email

Room for improvement

ExpressVPN is relatively expensive compared to the other providers on this list. Many people end up with NordVPN or Surfshark because they are similar in quality but cheaper.

A small problem you’ll encounter when using ExpressVPN on your smartphone is that the kill switch sometimes kicks in when you change networks. You don’t receive a notification, which means your connection is lost without you realizing the kill switch has activated. You won’t receive notifications from incoming emails, WhatsApp chats, and other social media, which can be quite annoying.

Back in the day, an ExpressVPN subscription could only be used on three different devices at the same time. Nowadays, you can use five simultaneous connections. However, this still isn’t as convenient as Surfshark that allows an unlimited number of connections.

ExpressVPN final verdict: 9.5

ExpressVPN logo smallExpressVPN is an easy-to-use VPN with many useful options and functions. This VPN service is perfect for people who want to surf, download, and stream anonymously (including Netflix). The only side note is that it isn’t exactly the cheapest VPN, especially with a monthly subscription. But if you’re willing to go for an annual subscription, you can benefit from a favorable price. If you’re looking for quality, we wholeheartedly recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN service of 2021.

In addition, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans that can be used as a trial period, so you can try ExpressVPN without risk.

Visit the ExpressVPN website: https://www.expressvpn.com/


NordVPN Banner

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the best and most easy-to-use VPNs, providing the best security features a VPN can offer, at a very reasonable price.

  • Fantastic security options with double data encryption technology
  • Visually striking and intuitive application
  • Online safety for up to six devices at once
  • 30-day money-back guarantee on all subscriptions
  • Very competitively priced if you sign up for longer than a year

Specifications NordVPN
Operating systems
  • Windows
  • ,
  • Mac
  • ,
  • iOS
  • ,
  • Android
  • ,
  • Linux
Simultaneous connections
  • 6
Torrents
  • Torrenting allowed
Netflix
  • Works with Netflix
Logs policy
  • Zero logs
Protocols
  • OpenVPN
  • ,
  • IKEv2
  • ,
  • Wireguard
Payment methods
  • Other
  • ,
  • Credit card
  • ,
  • Cryptocurrency
Money-back guarantee
  • Yes

Why should you choose NordVPN?

NordVPN is an extremely reliable VPN provider with a high number of servers all around the world. NordVPN uses advanced double data encryption and offers competitive prices. It’s no wonder that NordVPN is the most-used VPN in the world at this moment.

Is NordVPN suitable for streaming and downloading torrents?

NordVPN allows you to download torrents anonymously through dedicated P2P servers. These servers are easily accessible in the interface of the NordVPN app.

NordVPN is one of the best VPN services for unblocking Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Netflix. With Nord, you can watch American Netflix from anywhere in the world. In fact, they even have an extra feature called SmartPlay, that directs traffic from most servers (even non-US ones) to the American version of Netflix. Netflix USA has the largest number of movies and series available, making it the most popular version of Netflix.

What operating systems and devices are compatible with NordVPN?

One NordVPN account allows you to go online with up to six devices at the same time. Windows, Android, Mac and iPhone users will all be able to run NordVPN on their devices.

Safety and privacy

It’s good to note that, despite a security breach of one of their Finnish servers in 2018, NordVPN has proven itself to be a VPN provider that takes its customers’ privacy and security extremely seriously. The service has undergone a full security audit by a third party to prove that their data is handled with the utmost care. They’ve also taken all appropriate steps to tackle the issues that came to light during the breach. Therefore, NordVPN remains a great option for anyone looking to guard their privacy and safety.

NordVPN uses the well-protected and trustworthy OpenVPN protocol. At the moment, this open-source protocol is seen as the golden standard in encryption for VPN connections. Moreover, they offer Nordlynx, a fast and safe protocol based on WireGuard, that is bound to replace OpenVPN as the standard.

We tested NordVPN for DNS leaks and could find none, which is a good sign.

Customer support

The NordVPN customer support has a great live chat function. Their support team is also available through email.

The quality of customer support can vary. Not every employee is as well-informed about the latest developments. We suspect this has something to do with the enormous growth of the company in the last couple of years.

Room for improvement

One thing we don’t like about NordVPN is that to log into the app, you are first redirected to your browser. This is not very user-friendly and can have consequences for your privacy. Your browser doesn’t need to know that you’re using NordVPN, right?

NordVPN final verdict: 9.3

NordVPN logo smallNordVPN can keep up with the top of the VPN market today, despite some vulnerabilities in the past. In fact, NordVPN is currently the largest VPN provider in the world. NordVPN has invested heavily in the past year to prove that user safety is guaranteed. It is a nice VPN with good software, which offers a lot of possibilities.

Many new VPN users might not even need the more advanced security features of NordVPN, but that doesn’t make NordVPN less accessible to them.

NordVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means you can use NordVPN risk-free for a trial period of about a month to determine whether you’re as satisfied with the service as we are.

Visit the NordVPN website: https://nordvpn.com/


Surfshark Banner

3. Surfshark

Surfshark is an excellent and fast VPN for an excellent price.

  • Excellent value for money
  • A straightforward, user-friendly application
  • Stay safe online on an unlimited number of devices
  • Works with different versions of Netflix
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Specifications Surfshark
Operating systems
  • Windows
  • ,
  • Mac
  • ,
  • iOS
  • ,
  • Android
  • ,
  • Linux
Simultaneous connections
  • Unlimited
Torrents
  • Torrenting allowed
Netflix
  • Works with Netflix
Logs policy
  • Zero logs
Protocols
  • OpenVPN
  • ,
  • IKEv2
  • ,
  • Wireguard
Payment methods
  • Paypal
  • ,
  • Other
  • ,
  • Credit card
  • ,
  • Cryptocurrency
Money-back guarantee
  • Yes

Why should you choose Surfshark?

Surfshark is a great and cheap VPN that might be relatively new but quickly worked its way up in the world of VPNs. With its low prices, user-friendly software, and strong security options, this VPN is a cheap, yet great alternative for other premium VPNs.

Is Surfshark suitable for streaming and downloading torrents?

Surfshark works great with Netflix and automatically gives you access to American Netflix with most of their servers. Aside from that, it’s able to unblock numerous other local Netflix libraries as well, including Netflix in India, Germany, and Japan.

Moreover, for those of us who like to download torrents, Surfshark allows you to download torrents and doesn’t compromise on security and privacy.

What operating systems and devices are compatible with Surfshark?

Surfshark is the only provider in our top 5 that has no limit on the number of devices that can simultaneously use one subscription. This means you can use Surfshark with the whole family without having to worry about limitations.

What’s more, Surfshark works with all the biggest operating systems. They have created great apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux and offer browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Safety and privacy

Surfshark even has an option that allows you to send your data through two VPN servers at the same time, securing your data even more. For this reason, Surfshark is ideal if you want to surf the web anonymously.

With Surfshark you can choose from a list of different protocols, including IKEv2 and OpenVPN. Their security is on point with the highly secure AES 256-GCm encryption.

Customer support

Surfshark has one of the best customer support teams in the business. This has been this way from day one. They respond quickly to your questions and are well-informed and polite.

Room for improvement

Compared to competitors like NordVPN or CyberGhost, Surfshark has a smaller set of servers. With Surfshark you can choose from about 3200+ servers in 65 countries. Surfshark is still relatively new, so its server network is bound to grow in the coming years.

Moreover, we noticed big differences in speed between the different servers. Ideally, all their servers would offer the same standard of speed for your convenience.

Surfshark final verdict: 9.0

surfshark logo smallSurfshark is truly a great VPN, especially considering their low prices. Even after having been active as a provider for a couple of years, they manage to keep up their level of success. Just like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, Surfshark has managed to maintain its quality, despite its increased server load. If you want a premium VPN for a very low price, with great levels of encryption and a lot of options, Surfshark is the way to go.

If you’d like to, you can use their money-back guarantee as a free trial period.

Visit the Surfshark website: https://surfshark.com/


CyberGhost-Review-Banner

4. CyberGhost

A solid and user-friendly VPN, a good choice for novice users.

Specifications CyberGhost
Operating systems
  • Windows
  • ,
  • Mac
  • ,
  • iOS
  • ,
  • Android
  • ,
  • Linux
Simultaneous connections
  • 7
Torrents
  • Torrenting allowed
Netflix
  • Works with Netflix
Logs policy
  • Zero logs
Protocols
  • OpenVPN
  • ,
  • IKEv2
  • ,
  • Wireguard
Payment methods
  • Paypal
  • ,
  • Other
  • ,
  • Credit card
  • ,
  • Cryptocurrency
Money-back guarantee
  • Yes

Why should you choose CyberGhost?

Are you looking for a good, cheap, and user-friendly VPN with a large server network? Then CyberGhost is the right VPN for you. This VPN has a huge server network (with over 6800 servers in 90 countries) combined with user-friendly software and apps. This winning combination makes CyberGhost one of the most popular providers on the market.

Is CyberGhost suitable for streaming and downloading torrents?

CyberGhost is a great VPN to use for all your streaming purposes. Apart from Netflix and BBC iPlayer, CyberGhost also gives you worldwide access to streaming services such as Hulu, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer, among many others. In fact, CyberGhost offers special streaming servers that are optimized for all these specific streaming platforms. This is very handy and a huge plus for movie and tv-show enthusiasts.

Their special P2P servers support downloading with BitTorrent and uTorrent, as well as other P2P networks. As a result, CyberGhost is able to allow all of its users to safely, easily, and anonymously download torrents.

What operating systems and devices are compatible with CyberGhost?

You can connect to the CyberGhost servers with up to seven different devices at the same time using just one account. This is especially useful when you’re looking for a VPN to use for your whole family. It’s even possible to request a dedicated IP address. This can help you bypass any online restrictions.

The CyberGhost software is compatible with Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Linux. This means you can easily protect all your devices with this app.

Safety and privacy

CyberGhost offers decent protection with 256-bit AES encryption. As a user, you have different protocol options, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard.

CyberGhost does keep some anonymized logs about when you use their service, so they can improve their app. Other than that they do not keep any logs.

Customer support

It’s easy to reach the CyberGhost customer service through their 24/7 live chat. Their customer support is available in English, French, and German. Their website also has an extended database of guides and frequently asked questions, if you’d rather go look for an answer yourself.

Room for improvement

You might be wondering how CyberGhost ended up in fourth place in our list of best VPN services. This is mostly due to security reasons. CyberGhost, for example, doesn’t work with diskless servers and doesn’t offer a double VPN option, while ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark do. Moreover, CyberGhost’s 24/7 live chat customer service sometimes lacks technical knowledge.

CyberGhost final verdict: 8.8

CyberGhost logo smallCyberGhost is a high-quality VPN for a competitive price. All this makes CyberGhost an excellent VPN for torrents and Netflix. They have a large server network, located all over the world. While the extensive options of other providers made sure CyberGhost ended up in fourth place, this service remains an excellent option.

Would you like to try out CyberGhost? Why not use their 45-day trial period?

Visit the CyberGhost website: https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/


pia-banner

5. Private Internet Access

PIA offers great security, competitive pricing, and has been around for ages.

  • Strong focus on privacy and security
  • Excellent server network with fast connections
  • Relatively cheap
  • Many options for the advanced VPN user

Specifications PIA
Operating systems
  • Windows
  • ,
  • Mac
  • ,
  • iOS
  • ,
  • Android
  • ,
  • Linux
Simultaneous connections
  • 10
Torrents
  • Torrenting allowed
Netflix
  • Works with Netflix
Logs policy
  • Zero logs
Protocols
  • OpenVPN
  • ,
  • Wireguard
  • ,
  • L2TP/IPsec
  • ,
  • PPTP
Payment methods
  • Paypal
  • ,
  • Other
  • ,
  • Credit card
  • ,
  • Cryptocurrency
Money-back guarantee
  • Yes

Why should you choose PIA?

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a VPN that consistently performs well. This provider focuses mainly on security and privacy. You can always count on their strong security features and large, worldwide network of VPN servers. In 2019 PIA was acquired by the company that also owns CyberGhost, so we might see some changes to their service in the coming years.

PIA is a good choice when you’re looking for a reliable, secure, and privacy-minded VPN that’s competitively priced. Experienced users will surely appreciate the extensive possibilities and security benefits PIA offers.

Is PIA suitable for streaming and downloading torrents?

When it comes to online freedom PIA is a good option. This VPN provider allows you to access the Netflix libraries in different countries. However, this provider’s primary focus is on safety and privacy. Therefore, Netflix won’t always work on all their servers.

PIA is especially competent when it comes to maintaining your privacy, and it allows you to download torrents safely and anonymously.

What operating systems and devices are compatible with PIA?

The PIA software works on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. Moreover, they offer browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

Safety and privacy

As mentioned earlier, PIA values online security and privacy. PIA works with different protocols, including OpenVPN and the new WireGuard. Furthermore, PIA has a strict no-logs policy, which means they won’t store any information about your use of the app. To prevent you from ever being unprotected, PIA has a built-in kill switch. Moreover, PIA can help you block ads, trackers, and malware with their PIA MACE function. This VPN provider is ideal for those users that like to dive into the settings to make their internet connection as safe as possible.

Customer support

PIA doesn’t have the best customer support compared to the other premium providers in this list. On their website, you can find an extended database with frequently asked questions and guides. If this doesn’t help you, you can also email their customer support. It might take a while for them to get back to you, but they do know how to help you. Sadly, PIA doesn’t have a live chat function for that instant fix.

Room for improvement

PIA isn’t the most accessible or user-friendly VPN on this list. For example, the lack of live chat customer support isn’t ideal for new users. For people who haven’t used a VPN before, one of the other premium VPN providers might be a better fit. This doesn’t take away from the fact that PIA is one of the best VPN providers around.

Private Internet Access final verdict: 8.5

PIA logoWe like a bit of competition in the VPN market. It would worry us if all major VPN providers were owned by the same company. But even though CyberGhost and PIA are now part of the same company, they both still deserve a spot in our best VPN overview. Private Internet Access has been around for a long time and has built a good reputation. Hopefully, they will continue to innovate in the coming years.

Visit the PIA website: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/


The 3 Best Free VPN Services

In addition to the premium VPNs mentioned above, there are also some decent free VPN providers. Of course, these free VPNs come with some restrictions, but some users can live with that. Our three favorite free VPN providers of the moment are ProtonVPN, Hide.me, and TunnelBear. You can also view our complete overview of good free VPNs and their options and limitations.

1. ProtonVPN (free)

ProtonVPN logo smallProtonVPN is currently one of the most widely used free VPN services in the world. In our view, ProtonVPN is currently the best VPN for people looking for a free service. The biggest advantage of ProtonVPN? No data limit! However, the number of servers for free users is very limited. That means that when there are a lot of ProtonVPN users online at the same time, this will put a strain on these servers. The result is that the speed can drop considerably. This can cause problems with streaming, gaming, and even browsing.

Fortunately, for a free VPN service, ProtonVPN is safe and easy to master. The ProtonVPN app is very intuitive and user-friendly. Besides the speed, we have few complaints about the free version of ProtonVPN. We also tested the paid version of ProtonVPN, which was also to our liking. The button below will take you to the free version of ProtonVPN.

Visit ProtonVPN

2. Hide.me (free)

Hide.meHide.me is another good free VPN that has been around for a long time. It offers great speeds for everyday use. The biggest downside to their free version is actually the data limit of 10GB. Hide.me is fine for checking your email or safe online banking, but torrents are blocked with the free version. Still Hide.me remains a great option if you want to try a VPN for free. However, be aware that streaming is difficult due to the data limit.

When you visit the Hide.me site, make sure to click “Pricing” in the menu. That way, the free package appears as an option.

Visit Hide.me

3. TunnelBear (free)

TunnelBearTunnelBear has a very user-friendly application with a nice interface. When you get started with TunnelBear, it’s all very intuitive. In addition to the user-friendliness, the free version has good server availability. Sadly, the free version of TunnelBear has a strict data limit, and downloading torrents and streaming Netflix isn’t possible. But for those who want to unlock more options, TunnelBear also has a decent paid VPN.

Visit TunnelBear


How to Choose a VPN Provider

There are many VPN providers out there that will try to get you to subscribe to them. Therefore, most people have considerable difficulty picking a good service. There are just so many to choose from, and they all claim they’re the best. To make things a bit easier, we’ve summed up some of the most important considerations we made when creating this list. You might want to take these into account when choosing a VPN for yourself as well.

Free VPN vs paid VPN

Many VPNs have paid subscriptions, but not all of them. Some won’t cost you any money. However, there’s no such thing as ‘free’ in the world (of VPNs). In other words, even the best free VPNs will cost you something, although not in the way you might expect. After all, companies want to make money, so they’ll have crafty revenue models hiding behind their free VPNs. Most of the time, these companies attempt to acquire your personal data as part of this revenue model – so they can use it for commercial purposes, for instance. Past studies of over 300 free VPN apps have shown that free VPN providers often request access to all kinds of unnecessary information, such as your contacts, media files, and social media handles. On top of that, the encryption and security features of many free services turned out to lack in quality and effectiveness. A substantial part of free VPN services (about 35%) even installs malware on your device, endangering your online safety. In other words, free VPNs can be very dangerous to you and your device.

Moreover, many free VPNs limit their users in all kinds of ways, including data limits, speed restrictions, download caps, ads, and long waiting times when connecting to a server. For that reason, it’s usually a better idea to choose a paid VPN. Over the last few years, the prices of these services have gone down considerably, as illustrated by newcomer Surfshark. For just a small price, you’ll have a fast, reliable, and high-quality VPN service for your whole family. If you’re looking for the best VPN services on the market, a free version will inevitably let you down.

Privacy and logging

VPN providers don’t all have to abide by the same laws and regulations. Some providers are obliged to keep certain logs on users’ activities or to limit or even prohibit certain types of online traffic (such as torrenting). Among other factors, the country in which a VPN’s head offices are situated determines the laws that a provider has to take into account. After all, local laws, rights, and obligations regarding the internet and privacy vary per country. As you may have suspected already, most VPN users wish to hide their online behavior. In these cases, mandatory logging of all user data makes a VPN pretty much useless.

Luckily not all VPN providers are obligated to follow such laws. NordVPN, for example, scores some extra points because they’re based in Panama, where the legislature benefits consumers and companies when it comes to internet privacy. NordVPN isn’t obligated to keep logs, whereas some providers in other countries are.

When it comes to logging, it’s important to consider exactly which information is being logged about you. None of the providers in our top 5 are obliged to keep any logs. We have made this a requirement to qualify for a place in our top 5 VPN providers of 2021. You can be sure that your online behavior and browsing history won’t be saved as long as you use their servers correctly.

Price

While compiling our top 5, we also asked ourselves: Is the price a VPN is asking reasonable considering their features? VPNs aren’t super expensive, but you still want to find the best deal. It’s important to check if you are getting value for money. We believe that a higher price doesn’t always equal better quality.

The general rule with most VPN providers is that the longer the subscription you choose, the cheaper the price per month. It’s therefore often smart to protect your devices with the same VPN for a longer period of time. As a result, it becomes even more important to choose the best VPN provider for your situation right from the start, if you really want to save money.

Compatibility with various devices and operating systems

Almost all VPN services we’ve tested offer multiple simultaneous connections. This means you can activate and use the VPN connection on multiple devices at the same time. Having this possibility is very useful. After all, you don’t want your phone to suddenly be unprotected the moment you turn on your VPN on your laptop. An extra factor to keep in mind, however, is the compatibility of the VPN you choose. Of course, it’d be convenient if your VPN actually works on all your different devices. When we made our selections for our top 5, we awarded extra points to VPN providers that work well with multiple operating systems, most importantly Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and even Linux when possible.

Servers

When assessing the different providers, we paid special attention to the server network and the number of servers every VPN provider had to offer. How many servers and server locations does a VPN provider offer? A server network with good coverage around the world is important for good connection speed, but also for ultimate freedom. If you want to view specific streaming services or unblock sites from a specific country, it is often necessary to connect to a VPN server from that specific country. That is why it is also important that all VPN providers have enough servers in the right places.

Security and reliability

It is generally a good sign if a VPN service offers multiple VPN protocols. This provides you with more options for unblocking and security. Though it’s also important to look at the quality of the protocol. Some VPN providers only focus on one or two protocols, but they make sure they’re the safest they can be. Others might opt for a wider variety of protocols, to aid with unblocking the internet in certain regions. We make sure to look at both of these aspects when determining whether a VPN is safe or not.

If a provider has a kill switch, it also earns extra points. If you have an activated kill switch, your internet activities will automatically be interrupted if the connection to the VPN server is lost. This means you never accidentally lose your secure connection without realizing it.

In addition, it is good to look at what exactly the company behind a VPN service does with your data. Can the company behind the VPN be trusted? In the past, some VPN providers have not been completely truthful about logging user data. That is why we pay close attention to this issue.

Netflix and torrents

Our ideal VPN provider allows you to download torrents safely. Furthermore, many people have other specific wishes. They might want to watch shows and movies on the American version of Netflix when they’re not in the USA (or while staying safe by using a VPN). For these people, we’ve prepared a useful step-by-step guide to help them get started with Netflix while using a VPN. A VPN provider gets extra points when they work with Netflix and other streaming sites such as BBC iPlayer.

Speed

We check the speed of every VPN we test. We connect to different servers and do speed tests to see if there is a decrease in speed. There is always a risk of speed loss, but with a good VPN provider with good servers, you will not notice this. But there are also VPN services where you sacrifice 80% of your internet speed, which is very frustrating.

Especially free VPN providers often limit the speed of your connection. Fortunately, this is usually not the case with paid VPN services. In any case, our ideal VPN provider has no data limits or speed limits.

User-friendliness and customer support

How easy is the VPN to install and set up? Is the information on the website of the VPN provider easy to understand? VPNoverview.com tests the apps of every VPN provider on various devices and operating systems. It is important that everything works intuitively and easily, even for inexperienced users.

The user-friendliness and quality of customer support are also important. If you can’t quite figure it out with your VPN, it is very nice that you can turn to customer service. We, therefore, approach the customer support of every VPN we test. We look at how quickly and adequately they help us with our questions. We also check what kind of support they have: will you have to wait days for an email to arrive or do they provide a 24/7 live chat?

What is a Virtual Private Network?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a secure connection between you and the internet. If you use a VPN, you’ll be able to surf the web much more anonymously and safely. It works just like any other piece of software, you download a program and turn it on when you need it. The VPN will create an encrypted tunnel between your device and the internet, meaning it’ll be much harder for strangers to find out who you are and what you’re doing online.

Why would you need a VPN?

VPN shieldYou might be wondering why you’d bother using a VPN at all. Isn’t going online without a VPN just as good? Not quite. When you browse the internet without the protection of a VPN, you’re unknowingly leaving behind many virtual traces of personal information. Your internet service provider (ISP), for example, can see exactly which websites you visit and what data you transfer and receive on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or other devices. The IP address you have been assigned by your ISP allows companies, governments, marketing agencies, websites, and hackers to track you. People using the same (Wi-Fi) network as you are often also able to see which websites you’ve visited. Your location, browsing habits, and browser history can all be traced by others.

Using a VPN makes it much harder for intelligence services, websites you visit, Google, Facebook, your ISP, your housemates, your employer, and other parties to keep track of your online activities. The VPN encrypts your internet traffic and masks it for these external parties.

A VPN service also provides additional protection against cybercriminals who are looking to steal your data or get access to personal information, such as your bank transactions or emails. If you use a VPN, you’ll be more anonymous on public Wi-Fi as well.

More freedom with a VPN

Aside from added online security and privacy, a VPN can also give you increased internet freedom. Sometimes certain (parts of) websites are only accessible when you’re in a specific country, such as different news platforms and content on services like Spotify, YouTube, and Netflix. With a good VPN, like one of the providers in our top 5 best VPNs listed above, you’ll get access to these websites and services regardless of where you are in the world.

A VPN service allows you to artificially change your location and online identity, meaning you can use it to bypass geographic restrictions on the internet. It does so by changing your IP address, giving you access to parts of the internet you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. For many people, these possibilities to unblock online content are a huge reason to start using a VPN.

Want to learn more about VPNs, how they work, and what they can do? Our “VPN Explained” article will tell you all of this and more.

In Conclusion: the Best VPNs of 2021

We have tested dozens of popular VPN services and eventually arrived at our top 5 of the best VPN services of this moment. Which of these five is the best choice for you, depends on your personal needs and preferences. Even so, rest assured that, whichever one you choose, all five are as reliable and secure as can be. Using a reliable VPN service will protect your online privacy and security. The VPN services in our overview are compatible with almost all devices and operating systems: Mac, Windows, Android, iOS (iPhone), and sometimes even Linux. This allows you to secure all your internet traffic with one account.

Here’s a short summary of our top 5 of the best VPNs of this moment:

POSITION AND VPNSCOREBest forWebsite VPN-provider
1. ExpressVPN9.5NetflixVisit the ExpressVPN website
2. NordVPN9.3Ease-of-useVisit the NordVPN website
3. Surfshark9.0ValueVisit the Surfshark website
4. CyberGhost8.8Extensive money-back guaranteeVisit the CyberGhost website
5. Private Internet Access8.5Amount of serversVisit the PIA website
Best VPN Providers of 2021: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about the best VPN providers of this moment? Are you looking for a quick solution to a problem? Have a look at our FAQ down below and click a question to see the answer!

Free VPNs can be useful, but they aren’t the best services around. They’re often slow and come with limitations on your speed and data use. Some even sell your personal data or misuse your connection. Fortunately, even some of the best VPNs are very cheap these days. Therefore, we recommend you use a cheap VPN instead of a free one to get the best experience.

There are a couple of excellent VPN providers out there. Which is the best for you, depends on your wishes. ExpressVPN will prove to be the best choice for many due to its fast connections, large server network, Netflix support, and strong privacy options. Have a look at a top 5 VPN list to find out what each of the five best VPNs of 2021 has to offer and find out which VPN fits your needs.

The best free VPN of this moment is ProtonVPN Free. ProtonVPN is known for its high quality and secure connections, and its free version gives you access to three different server locations. The best part is that ProtonVPN Free allows you to use its service without any speed or data limits. The one downside is that the speed of your connection might still be affected, because many people tend to use the same ProtonVPN Free servers.

NordVPN currently is one of the best VPNs for streaming. Whether you want to watch Netflix, Hulu, Fox, or Kodi, NordVPN will make it work. With this VPN, you’ll be able to stream content you wouldn’t normally have access to. In addition, a NordVPN subscription won’t cost you all that much.

Protecting your online life shouldn’t be expensive. Surfshark is, without a doubt, the very best cheap VPN of 2021. It offers fast connections, gives access to many international versions of Netflix, and works with strong encryption methods to keep you safe. If you want to know which other cheap VPNs are out there, you can have a look at our top 3.

We recommend getting ExpressVPN for your iPhone or iPad. This VPN is the fastest one we’ve tested and it works especially well with Apple products. Apart from speed, it ranks high on security and other features too. You can read more about ExpressVPN in this extensive review.

The best VPN to use on Android phones like Samsung Galaxy, OnePlus, Google Pixel, and others, is Surfshark. This VPN is really cheap, offers servers with excellent speeds, and has a user-friendly app that’s easy to use. For more information about Surfshark, check out our detailed review.

ExpressVPN is a top choice for torrenting, because of the high speeds it offers combined with robust security features. It can help you quickly download torrent files while staying safe. Read our full ExpressVPN review for all the details.

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  1. What about McAfee VPN

    • Usually these VPNs that are owned and operated by bigger cybersecurity companies leave something to be desired. We didn’t test McAfee’s software ourselves yet, but what we have read about it is that it doesn’t unlock a lot of geographically blocked content, it has to abide by certain US privacy regulations and therefore has to keep certain logs, speeds are inconsistent and the customer support is subpar.

  2. Thanks for the information, how do you rank TunnelBear and IPVanish? They’re highly ranked elsewhere, as I’ve been travelling before this lockdown situation and found them useful in few countries where few of the websites don’t work.

  3. Any reason why AirVPN is not on any list?

    • We have not yet had the chance to write a full review for AirVPN in English (but we do have one in our native tongue). Our main reasons for not having it in our Top 5, however, are because it doesn’t seem to work with Netflix and its interface is slightly complex for the average user.

  4. Personally, I use Surfshark and I found that it’s quite good at bypassing geo-blocks and it works fine for streaming. They don’t have a free trial to try it out, unfortunately, but the yearly subscriptions are usually pretty cheap.

  5. I agree with Paula. For example, I was searching for a VPN that works with Netflix but is not expensive, so NordVPN was the best option for me. It absolutely depends on the needs. But, I’ve also heard good reviews on ExpressVPN, but it’s just not for my pocket. I’m glad, that Nord fulfills my needs and I have no issues with using it.

  6. Thank you for the informative article. Our communications with the world seem private and select because we are usually solitary when sending and receiving messages. That doesn’t mean we are anonymous or impervious. I have now learned from this article the importance of having a VPN.

  7. A lot of people have a tendency to ask, “What is the absolute best VPN service?” The truth is that no VPN service is “the” best. There is only the best one for your specific needs.

    • That’s exactly right. This is why we submit all of the VPNs we test to thorough reviewing and score them separately on different aspects (safety, speed, usability, and so on). That way, you can always see which one would suit your tastes and needs best.

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